Travels With A Toddler

Since Tim finished up the most recent round of the project of insanity at work, he took this week off. Seeing as how he was off, we decided to take a short little jaunt down to Williamsburg and see what it was like traveling with the kiddo. Our thought was that we'd be close enough to home that if things were just dreadful, it was only 2.5 hours and we could scoot home with no one the wiser. It didn't come to that but...we learned an awful lot.

The drive is only 2.5 hours - so reasonably short and the last time we went on a long car ride, things went well so we were rather surprised to find that, less than 30 minutes from the destination, we had to stop at a rest area for the wiggler to wiggle. And wiggle he did. He ran hither and thither and yon for 15 or so minutes and then, grudgingly, went back into his seat. I hadn't thought we'd need a break on a short trip like that...but he's his father's son, apparently. (Tim was grateful for a chance to stretch his legs, too.)

When we got there, we headed straight for lunch. This was not a problem, we were all hungry - so we got our tickets to the historic area and then hit up a tavern. Thinking to avoid the lines and get food more quickly, we opted for "garden seating". This provides what I would term "airplane fare" - Tim, being more gracious than I, would call it "picnic fare". Regardless, we spent $33 for 2 turkey sandwiches on rolls (think the sandwiches you used to get on an airplane - down to the slightly moist plastic wrap), 2 bags of chips, 2 bottles of water, a bowl of Brunswick stew, and a kid's fountain drink. Total cost of producing this food? I would guess somewhere around $5. Still, it was food and it filled the hole in the little one's belly before shrieking could begin. We just couldn't help contrasting it with the $26 (including tip) we spent at Chili's that night for dinner where we all left stuffed and the food was hot and tasty.

Then we proceeded to walk about. The thing about Williamsburg though is that strollers really need not apply. Not even just on the main drag because they don't so much have sidewalks. If they have any kind of paving, it's brick. But mostly it's crushed shells. And while I've never paid any mind to the historic accuracy before...pushing a street stroller through that is not something I'm keen to repeat ever. Note to self: if going somewhere historic, take an offroad stroller. The other thing about Williamsburg is that you can't take a stroller in anything. So one of us would wait outside while the other went in and so forth. Not particularly great for family togetherness. Still, we had fun. The kiddo ran around like a mad man on the lawn in front of the Governor's Palace and we walked back and forth twice because it really wasn't that hot. We also saw a fife and drum squad playing their way merrily up the street and that, hands down, was the highlight for the kiddo.

After the aforesaid dinner at Chili's, we went to the hotel. Really, it's probably a motel. Either that or I am an incredibly spoiled princess when it comes to hotels. (And this may be the case, and if it is, well, so be it.) It was clean. I'll give it that. I had no fear of walking barefoot. But. Well. That's really all I can say for it. It was clean. So we set up the pack and play and it was bedtime so we put him down...but then, see, we were right there and he wanted to be up with the people and we sat there for a few minutes wondering exactly how one is supposed to travel with a toddler and have only one hotel room. Finally, we put out all the lights, turned off the TV, draped a bedspread around the outside of the PnP so he couldn't see out and put a toy on his back to stand in for the comforting hand of daddy (so he didn't feel like he needed to stand up to see where we'd gone) and then Tim and I huddled silently around the glow of the laptop for another hour until giving in and going to bed. I don't know that I've been to bed before 9 in a long time (well, barring illness.)

No one was surprised when the kiddo decided that 6:15 was the time to wake up. We tried bringing him in bed with us, but as Tim and I had spent the night clinging tenaciously to the edge of the double bed, that didn't go over so well for anyone. (Yes, yes, spoiled. I know.) So we got up and went to the breakfast...where they were out of coffee. *sob*

After getting ready and checking out, we headed for a Starbucks and contemplated our options. Neither of us were really looking forward to another day of crushed shells, and honestly, we'd really seen everything we wanted to see. So we called my friend Michelle and headed that way instead. Honestly? The time we spent there was the best part of the vacation.

After a delicious lunch, homemade cookies, and play time for the boy, we headed home. He napped the entire trip and woke up as we were turning into the neighborhood. It's good to be home. And the $299 airfare + 4 nights in Dublin looks just a little less enthralling right now.


michellewillingham said...

I had a great time!! Thanks for all your help with the food prep, and it was really nice to see you guys. :)

Travel is always an adventure with a toddler. But glad he took a nap!

Jen said...

Your PnP-one hotel room experience is why I opted to try the toddler tent idea for our California trip last year. The tent worked well then and it worked well again last week when Beau's Mom was in town visiting, which meant he was displaced from his room.

It's a novel thing for the kid and he's zipped into a controlled space. We were surprised that Jesse didn't try to unzip himself last week, but he seemed to like being in the tent.

Rob said...

Having been to Dublin as a couple - and as much as I'd love to go back - I can't imagine doing that city with a toddler. Most of the other places we went in Ireland I think would still be just fine with a toddler since they're more rural. And what toddler wouldn't enjoy climbing up steps, exploring castles & such? Honestly, Dublin has some appeal, but it's just a densely-packed urban mess. The real beauty of Ireland is in the countryside and the smaller towns. We stayed in bed & breakfasts in smaller towns and some fairly remote areas and I wouldn't trade that experience for anything - staying at B&Bs is the best way to experience the Irish people and they'll treat you like long lost family!

We make the same particular 4-hour drive to visit some friends fairly often and we discovered that the city we pass thru about halfway there has a great riverside park with an incredible playground that's very well-suited to toddlers. So, we stop off and let Liam burn off all his excess energy at the playground before we set off for the 2nd half of the trip. After that brief diversion, we swing by a Dairy Queen and get a small ice cream. He's tired, full, and ready for a little backseat nap in no time.

beth said...

Michelle - it was really fun - we had a blast. We really will have to try and make a point of coming sometime when your hubby can be around. I think he and Tim would have fun. (If nothing else, they could skunk the kids on the Wii.)

Jen, the tent is appealing...I may have to look into that the next time we travel. Cause something has to change. :)

Rob - We've been to Ireland twice as a couple and, like you I don't think Dublin would really be the place to take a toddler. But for that airfare, I think I'd just eat the hotel and go rambling around the countryside. I miss Ireland.